It has come to light over recent days that the Queensland Government’s proposed assistance package for tenants and landlords appears to be unbalanced.
Whereas other States and Territories have announced rental packages that support both parties relatively equally during the crisis, the same unfortunately can’t be said in Queensland as it stands.
The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) has announced an industry campaign, which aims to ensure that the rights and responsibilities of both tenants and landlords are more evenly distributed during these uncertain times.
While it’s fair to say that everyone supports the mortarium on evictions if tenants are in financial hardship due to the pandemic, the proposals appear to be asking landlords to shoulder an unreasonable proportion of the burden.
The Queensland Government’s Special COVID-19 Protections for residential tenants and landlords include the following proposed new temporary rules:
- While other States, such as NSW, have indicated that any rent reduction or waiver will need to be repaid at some point, the same proposal is not on the table in Queensland.
- It’s important to note that landlord insurance may not provide cover for rent in arrears as is mentioned above. Likewise, the normal terms of a policy may not cover the rent reduction as this is a mutual agreement between the landlord and the tenant, which means landlords cannot follow the necessary rent default process as this is prohibited. Please contact your relevant insurer for individual policy conditions.
- A tenancy agreement will immediately extend by six months if it expires during the six-month freeze on evictions. This means that tenants will be automatically entitled to a six-month extension of the tenancy agreement, which means any protections, such as reduced rent, may last up to 12 months.
- Tenants can break a lease with only seven days’ notice if they are significantly financially impacted by coronavirus. Landlords can also not recover any lost rent or costs associated with finding a new tenant as would normally apply.
While these are unprecedented times, it is vital that the rights and responsibilities of landlords are equally protected.
It’s satisfying that the vast majority of tenants and landlords are doing the right thing by each other with only a very small percentage of renters needing rent reductions or other payment plans according to our research.
However, it serves no purpose to legally prioritise one party’s rights over another, when everyone is currently experiencing some form of anxiety and financial worry.
The Queensland Government will resume parliament on Wednesday 22 April to discuss its rental proposals.
If you are a landlord and would like to have your say before then, please go to www.reiq.com/everyonematters/